The prefecture of Nagano in Japan’s main island Honshu is one of the few prefectures which is not bordered by ocean or sea, making it one of Japan’s few inland prefectures. Nagano has nine of the twelve highest mountains in Japan, but also contains lakes and hot springs. The longest river in Japan flows from Nagano Prefecture to Niigata Prefecture and is known as the Chikuma River through Nagano and then as Shinano River in Niigata. This 367 km long river’s source is Mount Kobushi (Nagano) in the Japanese Alps of Honshu and flows all the way to the Sea of Japan (Niigata).
The Chikuma Nishiki brewery is located in the centre of Nagano Prefecture, a perfect location for Sake brewing due to its naturally cold location having the Asama Mountain to the North and Yatsugadake Mountain (an active volcano) to the South and an altitude of 700 metres. From crystal clear water, fresh cold mountain air and great rice, Nagano has the perfect requirements for producing fantastic Sake.
Chikuma Nishiki moved to its present location in 1962, but as a Kura [brewery] they have been brewing sake since 1681 (over 330 years!). Mount Asama not only serves as a majestic backdrop to the kura, but also serves as a water source for Japan’s longest river the Chikuma, along with the 6 wells that Chikuma Nishiki use for sake production. 99% of the rice that Chikuma Nishiki use is local Nagano rice, including the native Miyama Nishiki variety that is famous for the quality of sake it produces. Miyama Nishiki is prized for its large plump uniform grain and its ability to grow in the extremely cold areas of Nagano. Miyama Nishiki is a rice that tends not to ferment out as fully as other varieties and so tends to produce a sake that is a touch sweeter and richer with delicate freshness.